Once people learn about common side effects of medications to treat elevated cholesterol or high blood pressure, they are often curious about non-drug approaches to heart health. The doctor may recommend exercise (de Sousa et al, Hypertension Research, online Aug. 3, 2017). Vigorous physical activity lowers blood pressure. Patients may also attempt to follow the American Heart Association’s advice to avoid salt and saturated fat. How many people consider quitting sugar?
Would You Benefit from Quitting Sugar?
Q. I have taken blood pressure meds for decades. A month before my most recent blood work, I decided to see what would happen if I stopped eating sugar or other simple carbs. To my astonishment, my cholesterol plummeted from the usual 247 to 193.
I decided to continue the no-sugar diet to see what would happen. Again, to my utter disbelief, within the next six weeks I had to discontinue my losartan due to low blood pressure.
I have not taken any more blood pressure medication for over a month because of this astounding turn of events. My cardiologist didn’t know what to say when I asked why the medical profession isn’t more aggressive about sugar and its awful consequences. Instead, they blame fats and sodium.
In my experience, sugar is the enemy of my cardiovascular health. Had it not been for my daughter reading The Case Against Sugar, I’d still be watching my fat and sodium intake with very little success. Your thoughts?
The Controversy Over Saturated Fat:
A. Our thoughts turn to a recent controversial editorial in the British Journal of Sports Medicine (Aug. 2017): “Saturated fat does not clog the arteries.” The authors, all cardiologists, suggest that heart disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity can all be traced to chronic high blood sugar and elevated insulin levels.
Many people develop insulin resistance when they eat foods full of refined carbs and sugar. The editorialists encourage regular physical activity, a low-sugar Mediterranean-style diet and stress reduction to improve quality of life and reduce the risk of heart disease.
We don’t know whether others can their lower blood pressure by following your approach. A recent review of trials of popular diets found that the Atkins diet, which cuts sugar and simple carbs, resulted in the most weight loss (Anton, et al, Nutrients, July 31, 2017).
We can’t think of any drawbacks to quitting sugar, although this is controversial (Stanhope, Critical Reviews in Clinical Laboratory Sciences, Jan. 2016). Table sugar (sucrose) is half glucose and half fructose. Recent research indicates that people who ingest large quantities of fructose have higher blood lipids and insulin resistance (Bidwell, Nutrients, May 28, 2017). A sedentary lifestyle seems to make these problems even worse.